Case Study: Del Mar Union School District, California

Leading the path to innovation through culture, relationships, and high-quality instruction.

Delmar Case2022
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Nested in the scenic city of San Diego, California, Del Mar Union School District is an innovative, progressive, and passionate district. They are committed to providing all learners with equitable and engaging curriculum, high quality instruction and responsive, agile learning spaces. In 2017, they decided to reimagine their schools focusing on the vision and mission of the district.


The unrelenting pursuit of the extraordinary school experience.


To ignite genius and empower students to advance the world.

Leadership in the district understood that changing learning environments would mean meaningful and ongoing professional learning, mindset shifts, and addressing what was most important: fostering a positive culture and support to address the key values of the district. Through planning, hard work, and countless hours of collaboration, the Del Mar Union School District is realizing their vision. The district is home to Blue Ribbon Schools that value student-centered learning environments, social and emotional well-being, and highly strategic and ongoing professional learning.


We are currently in the process of designing spaces for the fourth cohort of educators. The color standards for each product have been set for the district, and the educators and administrators come ready with their thoughts and ideas for the design sessions. This is not a race- it’s a marathon. “The iterative process we have embraced allows us to continually grow and be responsive to the evolving needs of our educators and our students. It keeps the learner and the learning at the center of our work.” – Jessica Morales, Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Every year, we have made some adjustments, but the learners, educators, families, and community have responded positively to these beautiful redesigns. The feedback, from all educational partners, continues to drive refinements to learning environments and ongoing professional learning. It is important to note that there is variety in each of the cohorts based on the previous cohort’s feedback. Items, ideas, and environments can continually evolve, and this is part of the process. Del Mar Union School District was even able to remain open during the pandemic while still using the modernized NorvaNivel furniture. This feat was accomplished because of the district’s phenomenal administrative team, dedicated educators, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. With the numerous accolades within the district, we are honored to be a part of their environment reimagination, and we look forward to our continued partnership with the Del Mar Union School District.


Intentional planning, strategic alignment, and exceptional collaboration with all stakeholders allowed the district to pass a bond measure that further propelled this work. The Del Mar Union School District started the design process by identifying a learner-centered designer and manufacturer. Upon the recommendation of an A&D firm, the Del Mar team was introduced to NorvaNivel. The solutions we offered matched the district’s “District Design 2022” objectives and mirrored their vision and mission. With our architect, product and design expert, owner, and director of education, we designed the spaces with Shelley Petersen, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Services, Jessica Morales, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and district teachers. These live design sessions, done virtually as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, brought educators and administrators from various sites to explore new furniture options for their learning spaces. Teachers were presented with a grade-level kit of parts, but also had voice and choice to identify pieces that would move to installation. After the first cohort of teachers, it was back to the drawing board for the next cohort. For the next four years, the NorvaNivel and Del Mar teams have continued to set standards, gather feedback, and design for needs of the learners, educators, and the environment. Last year, Del Mar Union School District opened a beautiful new school, Pacific Sky, and the standards were set with predominately NorvaNivel. In addition to Pacific Sky, 42 classrooms around the district were also redesigned for the start of the 2022-23 school year. As a whole, we have designed and implemented 80 learning spaces across the district to include: general education classrooms, STEAM spaces, Innovation Centers, and Special Education classrooms. In this latest cohort, we are also designing two professional learning spaces and hallways.

RockerOtts and HexOtts are in every classroom. A GrassyOtt or a Grassy Bench (sometimes including an additional Grassy WorkPad or Grassy Genga), resides in every classroom, Kindergarten through sixth grade. Variations of pieces, and different options between grade levels exist, but every piece of furniture has a standardized color scheme. For instance, all tables have a gray edge band, all frames are silver, and the Collaborative Collective Qtr Tables and foldable tables are always writable in each space. Zipper side colors are always Modena Sidewalk. The district is in tune with the need for restorative spaces and sensory pieces within every space, too. Therefore, TacTiles and an IncuPod or Hoodie reside in spaces throughout their schools.


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“A student-centered approach has guided our work. Intentional and strategic steps toward scaling best instructional practices coupled with dynamic environments have had a tremendous impact at all of our schools. We continue to observe and seek feedback from all educational partners as we move forward.”

Holly McClurg, Ph.D., Superintendent



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Hex-shaped foam ottomans can be used as seats and surfaces, depending on the learner's needs.

Designed to fit with the Conclave Low Back Seat to create various large group seating spaces.

Ideal for larger group learning zones in 21st century learning environments.

The standing height SunshineOnACloudieDay Table is suitable for engaging group activity work and projects.

Square ottoman with angled seat to encourage a natural s-curve in the back.

A NorvaBoard provides learners active movement in a 21st century learning environment.